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Hypnosis, Singularity and Breastfeeding Difficulties: A Clinical Study (part II)

Updated: Feb 17

Maurício da Silva Neubern. Part II




One of the points that initially caught the researcher's attention was the emphasis Maria Luíza placed on listening to her baby cry. In this sense, the researcher understood that it was necessary for this process to be conceived as a possibility for improving her relationship with her son, rather than an unsolvable problem. In other words, her auditory sensitivity needed to be included in the therapeutic context as a skill to be used favorably by the young woman (Erickson, 1958). The researcher therefore made the following suggestions:

  1. "And you, Maria Luíza, listen to the sounds outside ... that building where the men work and break down the walls ... and that noise can be annoying for many people ... but you can follow these beats a little and let them come to you ... and notice that they come to you and vibrate in your body ... and you can stay with them or let them go.... And you can also listen to the sounds in this room, your colleagues who take notes of our session and fiddle with their notebooks ... and you can listen to my voice and do whatever you want with it ... and you can also listen to the sounds of your breathing and realize how pleasant it is to breathe. "

  2. "And now, you can take advantage of this moment when your body is resting, when you feel your weight on this armchair, and your breath is flowing and go wherever you want... maybe you'll hear your son crying and you can accompany him in a very quiet way... and study this cry a little and notice that it comes to you... and how beautiful it is to look at that little boy lying there, asleep... and I don't know what music you heard... and study this cry a little and notice that it comes to you, but you can let it go... and how beautiful it is to look at this little boy lying there, sleeping... and I don't know what music you would listen to right now... going somewhere you want to be... maybe that Djavan song would come to you..."


In this brief sequence, it's worth highlighting a few characteristics that helped her change the way she listened to her son's crying. In the first instance, the researcher made a progressive movement that ranged from the external sound to the sounds of the girl's own breathing, in order to blur the external annoyance (see the emphasis on the word annoying), towards a feeling of internal tranquillity. In this way, the young woman was given the suggestion that the ear could select its focus and, more than that, could move away from the uncomfortable situations around her to focus on the internal processes of her own world, here reassured by the gentle breathing and the pleasant sensation of relaxation that was already visible at that moment. Another important message was her ability to accompany irritating sounds with her thoughts - which suggested a different possibility to irritation, which was to calmly observe these stimuli. In this way, she followed them and realized that the sounds reached her body, but that she had the option of not dwelling on them, letting them go, a term that is duly accentuated in the researcher's voice.

In this sense, the same sequence was repeated with regard to her son's crying, which she found so uncomfortable. She was already in a different position to receive him (in a more relaxed and calm state) and could also apply the same device: that of accompanying him, letting him touch her body and, above all, letting him go. In other words, in another context, she has the possibility of not dwelling on the irritation caused by crying and could move on to other types of experience. The researcher completed the sequence by again adding a pleasant scene - that of being able to observe the baby lying down - without making any mention of its crying. Reinforcing this chain of suggestions, the researcher also proposed to her, based on prior knowledge about her taste in music, that her ears could also bring a very pleasant experience to her experience with her son - the music of Djavan, a singer she loved so much.

So, if previously her narrative had been marked by the irritation caused by the baby's crying, now the hypnotic context brought about a series of small changes in her subjective experience. The crying did not cease to exist, nor did the irritation; but it was qualified in another way, as something that could be released from her experience. But in addition to crying, the suggestions recalled and highlighted pleasant experiences of living with their child, such as moments of relaxation, being able to breathe well, watching the baby sleep and also listening to good music. In short, new experiences were evoked from her own subjectivity in order to provide her with a richer and more diverse context for living with her son.


Milk appeared as the initial representative of Maria Luíza's complaint. If her doctor told her that it was produced, she wondered why it wasn't flowing normally to her child at the time of breastfeeding. So the researcher made the following hypnotic suggestions.

  1. "I remember once watching Globo Rural when a farmer talked about the correct way to milk a cow... he said that it was important for the animal that the farmer approached it nicely... in a friendly way... and took hold of its teats with care and affection... some farmers even like to play classical music in the barn ... and they say that the cows feel better and produce more milk ... and I wonder how interesting it must be for the cow to listen to this music and let herself be enveloped by it ... to be gently touched by the music..."

  2. "And another vision, which is very beautiful, is that of a simple glass of milk... this can already whet a lot of people's appetites... because it's something very tasty... and perhaps you might wonder what a bucket of milk must be like... or a bathtub of milk... but a pool of milk must be very nice indeed... and to stand at the edge of it and look... and you can do whatever you want... now..." In this sequence of suggestions, there is a first moment in which the researcher returns to the need for a pleasant context in order to achieve something - in this case the production of milk. He took advantage of the young woman's joke, about becoming a dairy cow, and constructed a series of suggestions in which certain conditions are highlighted for her to feel good and thus produce milk. It is interesting to note that, based on the joke, the young woman identified with the cow, albeit unconsciously, so that the conditions for her to produce well were similar to those she herself needed for her milk to flow (Melchior, 1998). Another point of identification that brought them together was the music itself, as emphasized in the researcher's voice: music that touched the body gently and brought a feeling of well-being. In this case, it is also emphasized, as in the suggestions about the ears, that she could let herself be enveloped by the music being played by it.

The second sequence pointed to a gradual process of milk production. She started with a glass, to which was added the suggestion of something tasty to whet her appetite, associating breastfeeding with the pleasurable dimension linked to milk. This pleasure was repeated on other scales and culminated in a pool of milk, which, in her trance, the young woman reported having dived into and thoroughly enjoyed. So, while milk was initially associated with doubt and a blockage, it came to be associated with a broader process, as symbolized in the suggestions above. By identifying with the cow, it was possible to convey to her the idea that milk production was linked to good conditions, in which there was a welcoming, pleasant and sometimes musical context. Another important feature was the gradual process in which the suggestion was constructed. Initially, the vision of a glass of milk was suggested, associated with the idea of something tasty; next came the bucket and then the swimming pool, both associated with something pleasurable. It should be noted that, in this sequence, the image of milk emerged gradually and was associated with pleasure, which made it possible to gradually detach it from its association with blockage, with impossibility. Thus, with a permissive suggestion at the end - that she could do whatever she wanted to enjoy the moment - the young woman allowed herself to have a choice in the circumstances she was experiencing in the trance and also to enjoy it. It was no coincidence that, in her accounts, she described diving into the pool of milk, where she played and had a lot of fun.

About the author: Maurício S. Neubern:

  • Psychologist (UnB/1995)

  • Master in Psychology (1999/UnB)

  • PhD in Psychology (UnB/2003), with a sandwich internship at the Université Paris VII (2001/2002-Capes).

  • Therapist - Ericksonian Therapy and Hypnosis (Milton Erickson Institute in Paris, 2001/2002 and Milton Erickson Institute in Belo Horizonte, 2005)

  • Master Certificate (Belo Horizonte and Milton Erickson Foundation, 2007)

  • Post-Doctorate (Senior Internship): Center Edgar Morin (CEM), École des Hautes

  • Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Capes 2015/2016.


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